Kids learn best through concrete experiences, Wolf explains, and nothing can be more hands-on than following a recipe and eating the results. From baking muffins to making soup, this mealtime task gets high marks from experts because it covers so many basics.
What kids can learn: You might not think of a recipe for muffins as a set of rules, but that’s exactly what it is—and a preschooler quickly learns that leaving out the sugar can have yucky-tasting consequences. Plus, all that stirring and pouring helps hone fine-motor skills. Grade-schoolers get early chemistry lessons when they mix a solid (flour) with a liquid (milk) to get batter, which changes back into a solid when cooked. Measuring the ingredients also teaches them fractions, and reading the recipe boosts their sequencing skills—teacher-talk for the ability to identify the beginning, middle, and end of a story, which is crucial for reading comprehension and writing an essay.